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Singer Mary Wilson has died. She was 76.

As a founding member of The Supremes, Wilson was a key part of the Motown sound. Mary Wilson, Diana Ross and Florence Ballard made up the first successful configuration of The Supremes.

a picture of a record that says Groovesville
Courtesy of Dan Austin

  

When you think of Detroit music in the 1960s, chances are the first thing that comes to mind is Motown Records. The iconic label produced some of that era's biggest hits.  But Detroit was full of plenty of other artists outside of the Motown label who were also deeply shaping the city's sound.  

Smokey Robinson
smokeyrobinson.com

Today is the 80th birthday of Motown legend Smokey Robinson.

The singer and songwriter was a founding member of The Miracles while he was still in high school. The group was Motown founder Berry Gordy’s first vocal group.

Group of dancers on stage during  "Now That I Can Dance — Motown 1962"
Courtesy of the Mosaic Youth Theatre

 

 

Today on Stateside, we talk to a state senator who wants to see Michigan enact so-called "red flag laws," which allow police to seize firearms from those deemed a threat to themselves or others. Plus, Detroit’s Mosaic Youth Theatre revives one of its most popular productions in honor of Motown Records' 60th birthday.

 

Person blowing vape cloud
Unsplash

Today on Stateside, Michigan’s Interim State School Superintendent explains why she’s opposed to an A-though-F grading systems meant to evaluate state schools passed by the lame-duck legislature in December. Plus, a researcher breaks down the “epidemic” of teen vaping and how e-cigarette use can affect brain development in young people. 

the Four Tops in concert
Arnie Lee / Wikimedia Commons - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The Four Tops, the Temptations, and the Stylistics will be performing this Saturday at the Legends of Motown Show in Sterling Heights.

Abdul "Duke" Fakir, a founding member of the Four Tops, joined Stateside to talk about the show and the band's history.

Jackson 5
CBS Television / Wikimedia Commons / http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

A planned ceremony to name part of a street in Detroit’s theater district after Michael Jackson has been cancelled, the Detroit Free Press reported yesterday.

Jackson 5
CBS Television / Wikimedia Commons / http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Fifty years ago, five brothers from Gary, Indiana signed a record deal with Detroit’s Motown label.

Next month, the city will honor those brothers — better known as the Jackson 5 — during the Detroit Music Weekend, a four-day-long music festival that aims to showcase all the creativity coming out of the city.

Part of the celebration will include renaming a section of Randolph St. in downtown Detroit after the group's most famous member — Michael Jackson.

Motown Mic
Andre Smith / Andre Smith Photography LLC

April is National Poetry Month, and today marks the birth and death of two figures who proved words could change politics, culture and art: Dr. Maya Angelou and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., respectively. 

Wikimedia Commons

A British invasion is coming to Detroit. 

This week a five-day music festival called Detroit a Go Go kicks off in the city.  Phil Dick organized that festival and he joined Stateside today to explain why the music appeals so much to British listeners.

A program booklet from the 2017 R&B Hall of Fame induction ceremony
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Detroiters may get yet another museum honoring the city's music legends: the founder of the Rhythm And Blues Hall of Fame wants to build a museum in the Motor City.

On Tuesday, LaMont Robinson, the Hall's founder, told city council members he's identified a city-owned building that could become the museum: it's a vacant nursing home on West Grand Boulevard,  less than a mile from the Motown museum. 

“We’re looking at anywhere from $3-$5 million [in costs,] so we’ve already started fundraising," he said. "So we just need the blessings of the city."

Courtesy of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra

No matter where you are, when you say the words "Detroit" and "music," someone's going to exclaim "Motown!"

But Detroit's music history is much deeper and wider than Motown. There are some locations around the city that have been forgotten and are important in the telling of Detroit's black history, and the history of music.

Stevie Wonder Avenue is made offical in Detroit

Dec 21, 2016
Stevie Wonder Avenue stretch of Milwaukee Street in Detroit.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Detroit music legend Stevie Wonder has a street officially named after him.

Stevie Wonder Avenue is on a stretch of Milwaukee Street near Woodward Avenue in Detroit's New Center Area neighborhood. It's only about a mile from Hitsville U.S.A. where Motown Records once operated. 

Wonder said he's excited for the expansion of the Motown Museum.

Motown Museum announces $50 million expansion

Oct 17, 2016
Conceptual Rendering of the Motown Museum Expansion from the street
Motown Museum

Since it was founded in 1985, the Motown Museum allowed visitors from around the world to visit the historic “Hitsville U.S.A.” recording studios, the first headquarters of Motown Records.

Now the museum has announced a $50 million plan to expand out from the original museum and studio, adding 40,000 squre feet of new exhibits, recording studios, a theater, and retail space for visitors.

Museum CEO Robin Terry says other developments in Detroit in recent years have created the atmosphere to go forward with a Motown expansion project.

Courtesy of Barney Ales

 

You’ve surely heard many stories about Motown over the years. Stories of its stars or of the ambitious Berry Gordy Jr. using an $800 family loan to build one of the most impactful record labels anywhere.

But there’s a side to the Motown story we haven’t heard much about until now: the business side. The entrepreneurial spirit, the hard work and the hustle to “get the records played and the company paid.”

Doug Coombe

Every Sunday during the spring and summer months, you can swing by John’s Carpet House in Detroit, and hear some of the best local blues musicians jam for free. But John's Carpet House is not a house, it's actually a field, located in an area called Poletown, where I-75 and I-94 meet.

The music happens all day long, as a roster of musicians rotate on and off the tiny stage that’s set up in a grassy area.

How to create a symphony of Detroit

Jul 27, 2015
Emily Fox / Michigan Radio

Tod Machover is a composer and professor from MIT.  It’s his job to create a Symphony for Detroit and he’s asking Detroiters for help. Right now he’s working with people living in Detroit and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to compose what he’s calling “Symphony in D.”


Famed Detroit jazz trumpeter Marcus Belgrave dies at 78

May 24, 2015
http://www.marcusbelgrave.net/

DETROIT (AP) - Marcus Belgrave, a jazz trumpeter who graced stages and studios with Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Cocker and Motown artists galore, has died. He was 78.

outside of hitsville usa and motown museum building
Flickr user Ted Eytan / Flickr

Many of Motown's greatest hits were written at a little house on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, the house known as Hitsville USA.

Nationaal Archief (Dutch National Archives)

Today on Stateside, we’re getting the inside scoop from former residents of the Brewster-Douglass housing projects about what it was like growing up in the Detroit projects. 

Their answers are overwhelmingly positive.

Ruby Straughter lived in the Brewster-Douglass projects from 1957 to 1972. She remembers people in the projects taking good care of each other.

“If a family couldn’t pay rent, neighbors would throw a rent party and they’d give the money to whomever needed the rent paid.”

She says no one ever went hungry or made fun of anyone else for being poor. Straughter remembers parents were strict with their own kids, and looked out for other people’s children as well.

There was also lots and lots of singing in the Brewsters. People sang four-part harmonies on street corners, in the parks, on porches and in the stairwells, where the echo was best.

But why was music such a huge part of living there? 

Emil Lorch collection/Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan

All this week on Stateside, we’re looking at the history of the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects in Detroit. If you’ve ever wondered about why they were created or what it was like to live in them, we’d love to fill you in with our three-part series. Here's part one:

If you remember the projects, you might picture the six identical high-rises on the city’s near east side. Those were the Frederick-Douglass Towers, and they were built in the 1950s and finally destroyed in 2014.

Iggy and The Stooges performing in a concert in London, England
User: Aurelien Guichard / Flickr

It's no secret that Michigan has turned out some powerful figures in the world of pop music. Musicians and artists whose influence rocketed out of Michigan and spread around the world.

A great example of this is in the United Kingdom. Many artists there were influenced by the R&B and Motown music: The Beatles, the Stones, the Who, and so many more.

blackenterprise.com

DETROIT (AP) - A family spokeswoman says Don Davis, a longtime Detroit musician, composer and recording executive, has died at 75.

Lisa Wilmore said Davis died Thursday in Michigan after a brief illness. She declined to say where he died.

Davis was a session musician during the 1960s at Motown Records in Detroit. He then went to work for Memphis, Tennessee-based Stax Records. He also started the independent Groovesville label.

He was a co-writer and co-producer of "Who's Making Love," a 1968 Stax hit for Johnnie Taylor.

Esther Gordy Edwards started the Motown Museum in 1985. After a recent visit, Sir Paul McCartney "adopted" one of Hitsville's historic pianos and had it restored by Steinway.
user dig downtown detroit / Flickr

From Motown to Madonna, techno to gospel, jazz and blues, from Eminem to Kid Rock to Aretha, and much more, the Detroit area has been, and continues to be, a music powerhouse.

In fact, at least 38 Grammy Award winners and nominees from the past five years have a Detroit connection.

A recent study from the Anderson Economic Group takes a deep dive into the business of the Detroit-area music scene.

Alex Rosaen, the principal author of the study for the Anderson Economic Group, joined us today.

If there's one song that captures the feel of Motown, Detroit, and America in the 1960s, it's Martha Reeves singing "Dancing in the Streets." On today's show we talked about the historical importance of this Motown classic.

And, we explored the concept behind community cafes, how they work and where you can find one near you.

Also, Ontario Power Generation is proposing to build a nuclear waste dump site on the shore of Lake Huron. How will this affect the drinking water?

First on the show, this promises to be an important week for the State Senate. This could be the week the Senate decides whether or not to expand Medicaid to more low-income adults in Michigan.

You may recall, the Senate broke off for its summer break in June without taking a vote on Medicaid, something that so incensed Governor Snyder that he came home early from a trade trip to Israel in order to publicly scold the Senate.

So, two months later, it appears a vote is at hand.

Rick Pluta, the Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, joined us today.

Wikipedia

“Dancing in the Street,” written by Mickey Stevenson, Ivy Jo Hunter and Marvin Gaye, and recorded in two takes, less than 10 minutes, by Martha Reeves. For many, that song is Motown.

Little did they know after slapping down Martha’s vocals in that studio in Hitsville on West Grand Boulevard, they had created a song that would come to represent a watershed moment in history--Motown’s history, Detroit’s history, and America’s history.

Writer Mark Kurlansky talks about the story of how this hit Motown song became the rallying point for these important moments in history in his newest book, “Ready For A Brand New Beat: How ‘Dancing in the Street’ Became the Anthem for a Changing America.”

rhizome.org

Some serious learning is about to happen.

Parliament-Funkadelic's "Mothership" will land at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C.

Here's the Mothership landing in its heyday:


George Clinton Dr Funkenstein Mothership by oublierleracismeskyblog

Wikipedia

Detroit musicians who had to wait decades for recognition are getting some high-profile attention lately.

The long-awaited discovery of Detroit musician Rodriguez was highlighted last month, when the documentary about him, “Searching for Sugar Man," won an Oscar.

This month, the once nearly forgotten session musicians for Motown Records will get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

As it turns out, two of those Funk Brothers played a role in Rodriguez' 1970 debut album, "Cold Fact."

Funk Brothers guitarist Dennis Coffey co-produced "Cold Fact," played guitar on it, and wrote the liner notes for it; the late Funk Brother Bob Babbitt played bass on the album.

But as the Detroit News notes, many of those Motown musicians have not lived to see this new accolade:

The Marvelettes have been nominated for a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
billboard.com

Motown favorites, the Marvelettes, have been nominated for a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Starting out as a group of high school students in Inkster, the Marvelettes went on to give Motown its first number one single—the 1961 hit, “Please Mr. Postman.”

From the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

Esther Gordy Edwards started the Motown Museum in 1985. After a recent visit, Sir Paul McCartney "adopted" one of Hitsville's historic pianos and had it restored by Steinway.
user dig downtown detroit / Flickr

It's called "Hitsville USA": the little house on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit that Berry Gordy, Jr. bought as a home for the fledgling record company that grew up to become the legendary Motown.

These days, Hitsville is a museum dedicated to sharing the Motown experience with fans that come from around the world.

One such fan was in Detroit on a Sunday in July 2011. And before he performed for 37, 854 fans at Comerica Park, Sir Paul McCartney had one request: to visit Hitsville.

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